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Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis

The Stop TB Partnership promotes The Global Plan to Stop TB, which calls for a total of $56 billion between 2006 and 2015 to treat 50 million tuberculosis patients and save 14 million lives during that period. Full funding of the Plan will help achieve the Millennium Development Goal to have "halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of tuberculosis". The Plan aims to provide:

  1. Improved treatment access--prevent 14 million TB deaths and provide treatment to 50 million people.
  2. New drugs--develop and distribute the first new TB treatment regimen in nearly 40 years.
  3. New vaccine--develop a safe, affordable vaccine to improve upon the existing vaccine, which has been in use since the early 1900s.
  4. New diagnostics--develop efficient, effective, and affordable diagnostic tests for TB--the first in more than a century.

The Plan was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on 27 January 2006. To initiate the funding drive, Bill Gates pledged to donate $600 million. "Every 15 seconds somebody dies of TB, avoidably, preventably," said UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, who helped launch the Plan. "I welcome the Gates Foundation's announcement today. For far too long, world leaders have ignored the global tuberculosis epidemic, even as it causes millions of needless deaths each year," said Brown.

"The Global Plan is fundamental for Africa, where tuberculosis was declared an emergency by 46 countries in 2005," said Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

A contagious disease caused by bacteria that most often attack the lungs, tuberculosis kills about 2 million people each year. Most of the deaths are in Southeast Asia and Africa. But tuberculosis is active worldwide and is a particular problem in Eastern Europe.

Drugs in use for more than four decades can cure the disease. A childhood vaccine against tuberculosis has been available for more than 75 years.

"This is a disease with a huge impact that is completely treatable and preventable," said Dr. Peter Small, a member of the Stop TB coordinating board. "It's not that we can't do something about it, it's that we've chosen not to."

In addition to insufficient funding, the fight against TB has also been hampered in recent years by two developments. Because HIV weakens the immune system, people who have the virus that causes AIDS are much more likely to become ill with tuberculosis than those who are HIV-negative. TB is the leading cause of death among people with HIV/AIDS.

The second problem lately has been the evolution of drug resistance among many strains of the bacteria that cause tuberculosis. Some strains, called multi-drug resistant, are immune to the effects of more than one drug.

"We have a unique historic opportunity to stop tuberculosis," said Dr. Marcos Espinal, Executive Secretary of the Stop Tuberculosis Partnership. "The challenge now is for people to work together in putting the plan into action, in order to stop one of the oldest and most lethal diseases known to humanity. This plan tells the world exactly what we need to do in order to defeat this global killer."

There has already been significant progress against TB over the past several years. Since 2000, estimated spending on tuberculosis control in the 22 hardest-hit countries has increased from US$800 million to US$1.2 billion; as a result, the number of patients receiving TB treatment in these countries more than doubled.

According to Stop TB, implementing the new Plan will require $56 billion over ten years--47 billion for expanding access to treatments already available, and $9 billion for research and development of new diagnostic tools, drugs, and vaccines. The estimated funding gap is $31 billion, since an estimated $25 billion is likely to be available based on projections of current funding trends. The investment, the group insists, would have a profound effect on the number of tuberculosis cases averted and lives saved.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Global_Plan_to_Stop_Tuberculosis". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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